Have you ever considered why average, everyday people become foster parents? Why would someone want to take on the challenge of another child? Well, that’s simple in my book: There is a desperate need. Becoming a foster parent provides the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in the community.
From the moment a child enters foster care they feel terrified and insecure. They are not sure where they are going and just want to go back home. Most children are not familiar with what we consider normal in the foster care system, so one of the best benefits of fostering is being able to give a child normalcy and stability. After all, every foster child wants the same things: love, food, shelter, safety and someone to tell them they are valued.
I like to think that every child who comes into my home, no matter how long he or she stays, will leave better off than he or she came. The reason for this is because foster parents have the opportunity to make a difference by ensuring each child’s future will be better than his or her past.
Another benefit is the ability to mentor the parents of our foster children. Sometimes the biological parents just need to feel like they have someone in their corner who is cheering them on to the finish line. No parent wants to have their child removed, but the progress you see is amazing when they feel that the foster parents are working with them for a common goal. The children will also do better when they see both biological and foster parents on the same team.
Fostering changes the lives of the foster parents as well as the foster child and the child’s biological parents. The foster parents’ biological children can be positively impacted by the experience, too.
When my husband and I decided to become foster parents, we talked with our sons about it and discussed why we wanted to do it. They agreed to help us and try it out. What an impact on their lives this journey has become. I’ve heard my teenager writes about fostering in his writing class. It made such an impression on the teacher that she and her family decided to look into foster parenting as well.
My kids are there the moment we welcome a new foster child and are very attentive as he or she adapts to the new home. This has made them more aware that not every child’s needs are met. As a result, they have become more considerate, thoughtful and patient.
Being a foster parent is a truly special experience. It gives you the chance to change the life of a child as well as your life and to make a lasting impression on the foster child, his or her biological parents, and your biological children. The satisfaction of a job well done is an additional benefit of foster parenting.
Rhonda Cross has been a Devereux foster parent for more than six years in Central Florida. She works full time at Florida Hospital and part time for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida’s external affairs department to help promote the need for foster parents in the community.